One of a Kind Sights in Arizona

One of a Kind Sights in Arizona

While resting on a large boulder, I try to quiet my mind and take in my surroundings. I’m on one of my morning nature hikes. The sounds of birds chirping, water trickling in a babbling creek mere steps from my feet, and the sun warming my body remind me why I enjoy wintering in Phoenix, Arizona.

It’s January and there are no harsh snowstorms for me to worry about. The occasional rainstorm accompanied by high winds is about as bad as it gets. Sure, the temps on rare occasion may drop into the 30 degrees Fahrenheit range (-1 celsius) for an overnight low, but those nights are few and far between. Even then, the days will warm up into the 50s and 60s … perfect for me to lace up my hiking shoes and hit the trails.

America’s fifth-most-populated city is home to red-rock buttes, beautiful scenery, and the kind of cactus most people see only in cartoons. I don’t know about you, but when I used to envision a desert, thoughts of dull, boring, remote, dry, hot, and maybe even dangerous came to my mind. Boy, was I wrong! The Sonoran Desert is anything but boring … it’s still hot and dry, but never boring, dull, or unattractive.

Saguaro Cactus and a lake reflection at sunset at Lake Pleasant Phoenix Arizona
Lake Pleasant, northwest of Phoenix, Arizona

A few desert facts.

Did you know deserts cover about 20% of the Earth? Deserts are characterized by extreme environmental conditions with little precipitation. Yet with minimal rainfall, they are able to inhabit plant and animal life. I’m totally enamored with deserts, especially the Sonoran Desert here in Arizona. Deserts are a fascinating ecosystem, but not all deserts are created equally. There are four types of deserts;

  • hot and dry (Arizona’s Sonoran Desert)
  • semi-arid (America’s Great Basin)
  • coastal (Atacama Desert in Chile)
  • cold (Greenland)

The Sonoran Desert in Arizona is real.

As a child growing up in the Midwest among lush green vegetation, I never had any aspirations of living in a desert. As a matter of fact, I thought those images of red rock bluffs, three-armed cactus, and ever abundant tumbleweed were a fabrication of cartoonists. I remember watching the cartoon “The Road Runner” which took place in America’s southwest. Ah, poor Wile E. Coyote!

a wild coyote walking through the neighborhood

The thought of art imitating life wasn’t something I had considered. The scenery, vegetation, and animals drawn in the cartoon seemed surreal to me, but real they are. You can imagine my excitement when I saw my first ‘real’ road runner, not to mention laying eyes on the strange yet beautiful landscape of the desert southwest. And the night-time howling of a coyote always brings a smile to my face. Yeah, living in the desert can be exciting.

a wild road runner on a boulder in Arizona
Road Runner in Arizona: beep, beep!

image of the Sonoran Desert with hot air balloons in the sky

The star of Arizona

Although there are so many things that make a desert special, the real star and main attraction of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the saguaro cactus.  It took me weeks of living among these beauties before I was even able to pronounce the name saguaro correctly – pronounced: sa-wha-ro.

saguaro cactus with interesting clouds Phoenix ArizonaEach saguaro cactus is unique and appears to have a personality of its own.  The Sonoran Desert’s bi-seasonal rainfall pattern results in more plant species than any other desert in the world, and it’s the only place in the world where you’ll see saguaro cactus growing naturally.

The saguaro is a large, tree-sized cactus that can grow as tall as 70 feet (20 meters) and is native to the Sonoran Desert.

Saguaros have a relatively long life span, averaging 150-175 years of age with some living as long as 200 years. It can take 50 to 70 years just for a saguaro to develop one side-arm.  Arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity … more arms lead to more flowers and fruit.

Saguaros are very slow-growing and may only grow an inch or two in its first eight years.  The growth rate is determined by climate, precipitation, and location.  Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater and the cactus will visibly expand.  This might explain why the desert feels so alive after a rainfall.  The cacti are doing a happy dance!

Every saguaro cactus seems to have its own individual personality; some cute, some not, some look like proud soldiers, some like a cartoon character and others look tired, twisted, and weathered, but no two identical.a forest of saguaro cactus, Tonto National Forest, ArizonaWhat is a Crested Saguaro?

Why are some cactus crested?  Saguaros rarely grow symmetrically and often grow in odd or mis-shapen forms.  The growing tip on rare occasions produces a fan-like form which is referred to as crested or cristate.  Biologists disagree about why some saguaro grow in this unusual form.  Some thoughts; genetic mutation, lightning strike, or freeze damage.  For whatever reason, their pattern growth is fascinating.

Five Favorite Finds

Five Favorite Finds

Happy Sunday everyone! It has been a busy yet productive week around the RV this past week. First off, I’ve been in major cleaning mode and the RV is smelling fresher than ever. It started with cleaning out my closet and then diving into cabinets and drawers. It’s amazing how much stuff two people living in less than 300 square feet can accumulate.

Mid-week I ended up doing seven loads of laundry. Only two loads were filled with the everyday clothes that we wore that week, the rest of the loads were bedding, towels, blankets, and jackets. I didn’t start out the day with the intention to do all that laundry, but when I checked the laundry room here at the RV park at 7:00 in the morning and found the place empty, well let’s just say, I took over the machines.

It felt good to get caught up on that part of my to-do list, and what was even better was getting all that laundry done in two hours while chit-chatting with my good friend Faye. She and I could not have timed/planned our laundry day any better. Lucky for her, I didn’t take over all the machines and she was able to do a few loads herself. Love those serendipitous encounters!

a bird on a wire fence

Okay, with some of the chores out of the way, let’s get back to blogging. I’d like to start a new feature here on the blog, and I’d like to know what you think. Once a month, I plan on sharing some of my favorite things. Thanks to other bloggers sharing their favorites, I’ve discovered interesting products, delicious recipes, entertaining books, TV shows, and even places I’d like to visit.

Perhaps this is a topic some of you would like to join in on and share your favorites on your blog. This could be a blog subject similar to the photo challenges that allow us to engage and share. So once a month, we can all post about a favorite find, a thing, a moment, a tasty restaurant, a great book, or any other subject that you are enjoying and think others might also find interesting. What do you think? I’d really love your input.

Without further adieu, let’s jump into my five favorite finds for the month of January.

1. Hangers

I know, I know, how boring are closet hangers? Well, let me tell you, these thin hangers have been a lifesaver. Ok, well maybe not a lifesaver, but a space saver. Just making the switch from those round plastic hangers to these thin guys has eliminated my morning battle of dealing with a jam-packed closet. By simply switching the kind of hangers I was using, I gained about six to eight inches of hanging space which is huge in an RV closet.

While cleaning and reorganizing my closet, these flat plastic clothes hangers allowed me to hold onto a few more clothing items … which may or may not have been a good idea. Although I must say, I’m proud of myself and did end up parting with a pile of T-shirts. Yep, a pile! This gal has a serious T-shirt addiction that I’m working on rectifying in the new year. 2020 is my year not to succumb to purchasing any more of those location tourist T’s. It helps that we won’t be visiting too many new places this year.

I happen to purchase the hangers at Walmart and bought some with the rubber grip while others are just plain. The rubber grips are great for shirts that have a wide neck or for items that require a little more hold. I like the plain ones for my everyday T’s. You can also get the thin hangers covered in a velvet kind of finish, but I’m not a fan of those. They seem like they could be dust collectors plus I’m just not a fan of the way they feel.

(By the way, some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The price remains the same. Should you use a link, I thank you and appreciate your support. ❤)

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent my weekend alone at my daughter’s apartment. No, Al and I did not have a fight … besides, he can’t get rid of me that easily. I was doggie sitting. My daughter agreed to watch her best friend’s two chihuahua’s for the holiday weekend but was later offered an excellent money-making dog/house sit gig. So she was faced with a scheduling dilemma. That’s when I stepped in and offered to watch her friend’s dogs at my daughter’s place. Trust me, there was a little bartering involved. So it wasn’t totally out of the goodness of my heart.

Along with the bartering were a few perks while residing at my daughter’s apartment. Aaahhh, a weekend to myself with a ‘normal‘ toilet, a 40-gallon water heater instead of the 6-gallon in the RV which allowed me to take long hot showers without turning off the water while sudsing up (luxuries nonRVers take for granted), and then there was every streaming service available with unlimited internet. Yeah, I was living in tall cotton!

It was during this dog sitting gig that I discovered the Amazon Prime series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I ended up binge-watching season 1 and 2 and now that season 3 is out, I’m trying to convince my daughter that I need to come over to her place and spend the weekend. So far, no luck! BUT I may have another option up my sleeve soon. Seriously, this show is super entertaining.

3. RV Water Filter

Safe clean drinking water is a subject that affects all RVers and some sort of water filter should always be used. With that said, the size and type of RV that you have will have a direct impact on what kind of filtration system you choose. Most RVers start off with a carbon type of filter; ease and size are usually the number one reasons. Large RVs may have a more complex filtration system installed, but most of us struggle with space making a carbon inline water filter the best option.

Drinking water

We were recently gifted a CLEAR2O® RV inline water filter and have been super happy with its performance. The tap water in Phoenix usually has visible particles floating around in it. So when I filled up a glass with tap water directly from my RV kitchen faucet and saw how clear it was, I was impressed.

I’ll admit, I was unfamiliar with the CLEAR2O® product line so I ended up doing a little research namely to see what the differences are between this filter and the blue Camco filter that so many RVers seem to use.

So what are the differences?

  1. Camco uses Granular Activated Carbon for filtration. The CLEAR2O® CRV2006 RV filter uses solid-block carbon for filtration which is said to be a much better filtration medium due to its density.
  2. The CLEAR2O® filters down to the 1-micron level. Camco has several RV filters and only one filters down to 5 microns.
  3. Because of its low-micron filtration level, CLEAR2O® CRV2006 is particularly effective against chlorine, sediment, heavy metals, lead, mercury, chemicals, and pesticides.

clear2O Dirtguard RV filterIn our personal opinion, we think this filter does a better job than the Camco carbon filter. If we change our minds in the future, I’ll be sure and let you know, but so far, so good. And since we’re still in the first month of use, I’m unable to know for sure how long it’ll last, but I’m guessing at least six months or more.

The company is also coming out with a new product called DirtGUARD which will be the first RV inline prefilter that snaps on to any existing RV carbon inline filter (including Camcos), essentially turning it into a dual-stage system. This sounds promising and a product that would be beneficial to a lot of RVers especially for those of us that struggle with extra storage space.

4. Books

Ok, it’s January and a lot of people made a resolution to lose weight, me included. I first came across The How Not to Die Cookbook: 100+ Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease at Costco which then lead me to discover the author’s first book; How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. With my curiosity piqued, I headed off to my local library and checked out these two books.

                     

I’m always fascinated by the science behind the power of food and truly believe, we are what we eat. Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that we consume, the better our skin will look, and the better our body will be able to ward off disease.

I’m still working my way through these books and although the focus is on a plant-based diet, I assure you I won’t be giving up my carnivore status anytime soon. I’m one of those people who believe in all things in moderation. Will I go a day or two without consuming meat? Sure, but I believe going strictly meatless can have its negative effects especially if one isn’t consuming enough proteins found from plant-based foods. That’s my two cents, anyway!

In future posts, I plan on sharing how Al and I eat these days and the diets we’ve followed in the past. The RV mobile lifestyle can be challenging when it comes to diet, exercise, and focusing on healthy habits, but we’ve found a system that works for us… well kind of, we’re still a work in progress!

a female hiking across a creek in Arizona

5. Hiking

One of the activities that fall into that healthy category is hiking. Hiking is my favorite form of exercise and I’m loving being back on the trails this winter. Before we embarked on our full-time RV adventure, I rarely hiked. Sure, I walked plenty but mostly city stuff or the occasional vacation trail exploration that I did in tennies. I didn’t own a pair of hiking shoes until seven years ago. After all, you’re talking to someone who used to live in 3-inch heels when she was younger, and the thought of wearing a pair of ugly hiking shoes would never have crossed my mind.

My how times have changed! These days, I live in my Merrells and don’t even own a pair of high heels anymore, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing like strolling in natural ingesting the sights, sounds, and smells. It makes me feel alive, it’s my church, my escape, and one of my favorite things to do.

I’m lucky that we spend our winters in Phoenix, Arizona. The valley has one of the best trail systems around offering everything from flat easy hikes to challenging uphill climbs and everything in-between. Phoenix has more land designated for parks and preserves than any other major city in the country. While out on these trails, it’s hard to believe you’re in a metropolitan area. The topography and views vary such that boredom is unlikely to be a factor, and of course, the winter weather in Phoenix is perfect for hiking as well as other outdoor activities.

So there you have it, my five favorite finds in January. Please share some of your favorites!

barrel cactus

 

Happy Holidays and Cyber Friends

Can you believe 2019 is coming to an end? I don’t know about you, but this year really flew by. I’m actually sad to flip the calendar. We had a fantastic year shared with friends new and old and saw sights that were also new and old. Returning to some favorite stomping grounds in 2019 was definitely one of several highlights for me.

This past month, Al and I have been spending time with friends and family and loving every moment. As we get older, the holidays are a sharp reminder of those no longer across the table from us. And although their laughter is truly missed, the loving memories will remain forever in our hearts.

a burning candle surrounded by pine cones

However you celebrate the light in your life, I wish you the very brightest of holidays. Al and I raise a glass to you and yours and wish you another year filled with fun adventures, memory-making, and lots of time spent with family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cyber friends I met in person in 2019

Gosh, I hope I haven’t missed anyone. The past couple of years, I’ve slacked off on my blog posts and don’t always share the amazing people we meet living this RV lifestyle. My goal for 2020 is to do better 😏. I’d also like to mention the fine folks out there that don’t blog yet have reached out to us via email. We are always grateful and humbled by complete strangers opening their homes to us.

I love my cyber community and every time I toy with the thought of ending my blog journey, I’m reminded by the amazing friendships that have been forged via this medium with bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Nope, I think I’ll keep writing and sharing my photos as long as you all continue to stop by.

Thank you for visiting and thank you for your friendship ❤

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

three ladies share food on Thanksgiving
Joodie from ‘Chasing Dirt, Mona Liza from Lowes Travels, and me on Thanksgiving Day. A big thank you to Joodie and Mark for hosting!

(Thank you for using my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The price remains the same. I really appreciate your support ❤)

Lose Weight with Your Instant Pot: 60 Easy One-Pot Recipes for Fast Weight Loss
Resistance Bands Set – Workout Bands
National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways: The 300 Best Drives in the U.S.

Gift Ideas for Him and Her Under $50

The holiday season is once again upon us and shopping for gifts is in full swing. I think I’m one of those rare people who enjoys the whole holiday shopping frenzy. It doesn’t matter if I’m strolling through stores or scrolling on the internet, I enjoy the Christmas gift shopping process.

Snow Mountain Ranch, renting a winter cabin in Colorado, #cabininthewoods
Are you in the holiday spirit? I am! When our children were young, this is where we used to spend Christmas – Granby, Colorado

This year, our small family has decided to keep Christmas gift-giving simple and stay within a budget-friendly range. As I was jotting down ideas and switching from my recipe search to gift idea search on the internet, I thought I’d share some products that I came across which I believe would make great gifts for him or her. Maybe you’ll find this post helpful with your own quest for the perfect holiday gift. (This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The cost is the same. I appreciate your support.)

Gift Ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Whether I’m RVing in our 5th wheel with my husband or embarking on one of my crazy camping adventures with my daughter, there’s some equipment that I feel are an absolute must-have for any outdoor enthusiast. At the top of that list are a headlamp and flashlights. Tripping over a tree root in the dark is no fun … at least that’s what I’ve heard😉 And flashlights and headlamps make great stocking stuffers or box fillers.

A great gift idea for anyone, whether you RV or not, is an Emergency Weather Radio. You never know when a life-threatening storm will head our way. Weather conditions are definitely something we want to be kept up to date on and we can’t count on a Cell phone or WiFi signal working during those severe weather conditions. Another must-have and great gift idea for anyone is a multi-tool. My husband uses his regularly, and we gave both of our adult children one a few years ago for Christmas. My daughter used her multi-tool during our Zion camping trip … and maybe we used a few things from our first aid/survival kit as well, but I’ll never tell.

Gifts for enjoying the outdoors in comfort.

With the necessary stuff out of the way, let’s talk about some fun stuff. Although, these are still necessary in my book. I’d be lost without my outdoor camping chair and throw blanket … gotta be comfy watching those sunsets during happy hour. We use and abuse our canvas chairs and end up replacing them every couple of years or so. Do you have a sports fan who loves tailgating? These chairs are perfect for camping, tailgating, and going to the beach.

And let’s not forget about quenching our thirst. I love these adventure enamel camping mugs for my morning coffee or campfire hot cocoa, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stainless steel tumblers that are perfect for cold or hot beverages. Wine, anyone? These make the best wine glasses! But my most treasured beverage container is the large travel bottle that I take everywhere with me filled with hydrating water. When ya live in the desert half the year like I do (Phoenix, Arizona), staying hydrated is important.

Living in a tiny home like an RV where space is limited, storage is always an issue. It’s not like we have extra space to store multiple coolers. I found this collapsible cooler bag last year and absolutely love it. It came in super handy on Thanksgiving Day when we visited some fellow RVers and needed to bring/transport cold beer and deviled eggs.🦃🍺🌵

The cooler bag is also perfect for taking to the beach as are these versatile Turkish Bath and Beach Towels. Since these towels fold up small and dry fast, they are perfect for any traveler wanting to take their own towel along. Speaking of traveling, when my daughter and I visited Disneyland and she engaged in the Play Disney App, the app used up quite a bit of her phone battery. Fortunately, she had one of these External Cell Phone Battery packs to recharge her phone. Guess who put one of these on her Christmas list?

Gift ideas for air travelers

My son and his wife enjoy cruise ship vacations which usually require air travel and a little more forethought when it comes to packing. Here are some gift ideas I’ve gathered with them in mind.

Last-minute gift ideas

Ok, let’s face it, there are some people that are more challenging to shop for than others. When all else fails, I turn to food. Ah, but it’s a good idea to know the gift recipient’s tastes, dislikes, and potential food allergies.

Happy shopping!

Do you enjoy holiday shopping? Have you finished your shopping list? 

Wholesale Warranty

Vacation in October | Disney Celebration

I love my mother-daughter trips and who doesn’t love a trip to Disney? Earlier in the summer, my daughter and I discussed options for a vacation getaway to celebrate her milestone birthday in mid-October. Our starting point would be Phoenix, Arizona considering that’s where she lives and where Al and I spend our winters.

Disneyland Star Wars Galaxy's Edge the Millenium Falcon
Disneyland – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Phoenix, AZ is conveniently located

Our choices were many … from scenic tourist towns, to national parks, and everything in-between. Ashton and I always have a great time setting off on one of our adventures, and since this was her 30th birthday (Oh my gosh, when and how did that happen? Seriously, am I old enough to have a thirty-year-old daughter 😏), we definitely wanted to do something special and fun. One of our best vacation trips to date was our camping adventure to Zion National Park and we haven’t been able to top that trip … just yet anyway, but she and I still have a lot more traveling to do together.

After several lengthy discussions, Ashton finally decided she wanted to go to Disneyland in California to celebrate her birthday. 1. She wanted to visit it while it was all decked out in Halloween decor throughout the month of October, and 2. She wanted to visit Disney’s newest attraction; Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge.

Disneyland Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

What is Galaxy’s Edge all about?

This is an excerpt from the official Disneyland website …

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will feature 2 signature attractions—Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opening January 2020.

At Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Guests will climb into the cockpit of “the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” for their own Star Wars adventures.

disney play app at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge
Ashton had fun with the Disney Play App

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge takes Guests to the planet Batuu, a destination along the galaxy’s Outer Rim on the frontier of Wild Space. Batuu is home to Black Spire Outpost, an infamous port for smugglers, traders, and adventurers who wish to avoid any unnecessary entanglements with the First Order.

Soon after you arrive, the Play Disney Parks app will transform into your Star Wars: Datapad! From translating galactic languages and hacking into droids to unscrambling transmission and scanning objects for precious cargo, it’s an interactive adventure that will enhance your Star Wars story… and guide you deeper and deeper into this all-new land!

My daughter became very engaged with the Disney Play app, keeping us in Galaxy’s Edge longer than we intended. The app adds a whole new experience for guests that gamers will love. Me? I didn’t care about the app, but I loved being immersed in what felt like another country or another realm.

Millennium Falcon at Galaxy’s Edge

Anyone who enjoys gaming is going to absolutely love the Millennium Falcon ride. It’s an interactive motion machine ride on a smuggling mission. There are Six players per ship; 2 pilots, 2 gunners, 2 engineers. The pilot on the right is in charge of the booster and up and down movement of the Millennium Falcon. The pilot on the left is responsible for the left and right movement. Gunners shoot threats while the engineers pick up supplies. At the end of the mission, guests are given a score.

Ashton and I were pilots both times we rode the ride, and then she was an engineer when she rode again midday as a single rider. I’m not a gamer and thus didn’t perform my duties very well. I was the pilot on the left and responsible for the left and right actions. I also had to hit another button from time to time which I don’t remember what its purpose was. I do remember us crashing into a lot of things that didn’t bode well for us to collect points. (hangs head with embarrassment 😔)

According to my daughter, I repeatedly said, “Oh sh*t” … a lot. Oops, sorry to the mom and her ten-year-old boy playing engineers at the rear of the aircraft. The two gunners behind me (middle-aged guys) were laughing. I guess I was really engaged in the ride and my actions not only entertained my daughter but the other guests as well. Glad I could make Ashton laugh on her birthday! Did I already mention, gaming is not my thang?

Disneyland Millennium Falcon Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Tips: We rode Millennium Falcon first thing in the morning and again later that night, right before fireworks, and stood in line less than 30 minutes each time. During the middle of the day, lines were as long as 2 hours. During that time, my daughter stood in the line for a ‘single’ player and again waited less than 30 minutes. For those wanting to bypass the long lines, think about riding as a ‘single-player’, BUT do note, you will NOT be riding with your friends. Since each ride requires 6 guests, for those odd-numbered parties, individuals are then pulled from the ‘single guest line’ to fill the aircraft.

Build your own Lightsaber or Droid

Got any extra money burning a hole in your pocket? Think about building your own Lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop or a less expensive option would be building your own astromech droid unit at the Droid Depot. We all need those useful items around our homes, don’t we? Since Ashton and I didn’t have any extra dollars to spend or the extra space to store those items, we took a pass on building a Lightsaber or Droid and opted to purchase a few T-shirts and Mickey Mouse ears instead … ya know, useful stuff! Mickey Mouse ears with Maleficent horns anyone?

Chewbacca at Disneyland

My daughter and I had a wonderful time hanging around Galaxy’s Edge. In true Disney fashion, you are transported to another realm … another land. The architecture and details are amazing and every cast member, including the cleaning crew and shop cashiers, remained “in character”.

Worth noting: Galaxy’s Edge has an actual water bottle filling station which was very convenient but also entertaining. We loved filling our water bottles here.

If you decide to interact with the Play Disney app, I highly recommend you bring along an external battery to charge your phone because the play app will use up a lot of battery power and finding an outlet in the park is not easy. If you do find an outlet, it’ll already be in use. The so-called ‘charging station’ noted on the Disney map is actually a vending machine with an external power battery for $30.

shopping in Disneyland
Of course, we had to do a little shopping.

Disney in October

Moving onto the rest of Disneyland, my daughter fell in love with the decor. She loves Halloween and considering her birthday is in October, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I have to agree, Disneyland was rather festive decked out with pumpkins and non-gory Halloween decorations. I’m not a fan of the gory Halloween stuff, so this was right up my alley. After all, what’s not to love about Disney characters carved out of pumpkins? (Or rather, simulated pumpkins 😏)

 

Disney California Adventures

On day two of our mother-daughter weekend vacation getaway, we visited Disney’s California Adventures. This was my first time ever visiting Disneyland in California. I’ve always gone to Disney World in Florida. I would compare CA Adventures to Disney World’s MGM Studio’s. We spent an entire day in the park, but depending on crowds, I’d say a full day in this park probably isn’t necessary.

Mexican Hat
Mexican Hat

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this park was the landscapes that Disney replicated. Around every corner, I immediately knew the actual location that California Adventures was emulating. Been there, done that, and even bought the T-shirt! (Y’all know, I struggle with a T-shirt addiction 🤗). It reiterated to me, how fortunate Al and I are to have visited so many beautiful places over these past seven years of RVing.

Once again, Disney does not disappoint when it comes to the details. I have so much respect and admiration for all the folks working behind the scenes at Disney … from the creative vision to the impeccable craftsmanship … you really do feel transported. And the cast members working with the public day in and day out are incredible people. Not one employee throughout our whole Disney vacation seemed like they were having a bad day. Whatever they get paid, it’s not enough. Truly talented and amazing people!

Favorite rides

  • eating a large chocolate chip cookie at CA adventuresMillennium Falcon – Galaxy’s Edge. Note – Star Tours in Tomorrowland is somewhat similar but not interactive.
  • Splash Mountain – Critter Country. Always entertaining and scream-worthy at the end.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – OK, who doesn’t love this ride?
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Matterhorn Bobsleds– I’ve always loved roller-coasters, but as I’ve gotten older, they don’t seem to agree with me like they used to. I still enjoyed Big Thunder and Matterhorn but Space Mountain made me dizzy. Ashton loved all three coasters, but the Incredicoaster made her a little dizzy… I took a pass on that one!
  • Radiator Springs Racers – CA Adventures Cars Land. Of course, we loved riding in a sports car and then racing against another sports car among the scenic red rocks of the desert southwest. What’s not to like?
  • Soarin’ Around the World– CA Adventures Grizzly Peak. This was my favorite ride of the weekend. This ride simulates an airborne hang-gliding flight over the wonders of the world. You’ll fly over polar bears in icy Greenland, swoop past sailboats on Australia’s Sydney Harbour, weave between elephants marching toward Mount Kilimanjaro, and more. The additions of wind and various scents wafting in the air like grasses and jasmine make this ride a unique experience.
  • Grizzly River Run – CA Adventures. I really enjoyed this part of the park and how it emulated Yellowstone National Park. We didn’t actually ride this attraction due to not wanting to get wet, but Ashton has ridden it in the past and loved it. I enjoyed watching the ride and next time I’ll bring a rain poncho and give it a go.
Grizzly River Run Disneyland California
Grizzly River Run

Where and what we ate while on our Disney vacation?

First off, we each brought a small lightweight daypack filled with our water bottles and snacks so we could keep the dining out to a minimum. I highly recommend doing this considering food and drinks can get rather expensive throughout the parks.

  • tips for a holiday visit to Disneyland what to eat and where to stayDowntown Disney – Tortilla Jo’s. We enjoyed a couple of margarita’s and an order of Fajitas once we arrived in Anaheim after the long drive from Phoenix. The food and drinks were average.
  • Disneyland – Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland. The specialty burger was excellent, but the fried chicken sandwich was just ok.
  • CA Adventures – Lucky Fortune Cookery; For lunch, I ordered the Szechuan Chicken and my daughter ordered the Beef Bulgogi Wrap. Both our meals were excellent and we would definitely eat here again.
  • But our favorite meal of the whole trip was from the Boudin Bakery. Their Clam Chowder Soup in a sourdough bread bowl was amazing! Although this dairy-free gal could only sample a small amount from my daughter’s bowl, she and I agreed it was some of the best clam chowder we’ve ever tasted, and of course, the bread was excellent. You can even tour the bakery and learn all about San Francisco sourdough bread while you’re there.
  • Treats; Sprinkle’s cupcake, large chocolate chip cookie, and Cake Pops were all just ok, BUT the absolute best thing was the nondairy lemon soft-serve in a cup from the Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats. Seriously, don’t pass this up!

Where we stayed.

Since my daughter has visited Disneyland numerous times, she and her friends like to stay at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel. It’s close to the park, reasonably priced (most of the time), and offers a shuttle to and from Disney which is super convenient. We enjoyed our stay and it worked for our needs.

Celebrating a birthday at Disney's California Adventures

Conclusion:

Ashton and I had a fabulous mother-daughter October vacation weekend celebrating her milestone thirtieth birthday. Although I enjoyed visiting Disneyland in CA, I’ll admit, I’m still partial to Disney World in FL. With that said, when you look at the distance and the convenience for us to be able to drive to Disneyland from Phoenix in less than six hours versus the distance and cost for us to get to Orlando, I have a feeling a repeat visit to Disneyland won’t be too far in our future.

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When Life is Stressful -12 Tips | Video About Us

When Life is Stressful -12 Tips | Video About Us

Have you ever had so many things going on in your life that you just didn’t know where to focus? Well, that’s been me lately. Blogging has definitely taken a backseat these days. Perhaps I’m still recovering from our quick nearly 2,000-mile (3,218 km) return drive to Phoenix … 800 miles of which included a storage unit move and me driving a twenty-foot rented box truck while Al drove the RV. Ok, I’m tired just repeating it in my head. Yeah, exhausting and stressful!

But that move didn’t stop me from hopping in my daughter’s car two weeks later for an extended weekend in Disneyland to celebrate her milestone birthday.

Celebrating a birthday in Car Land Disneyland

While at Disney, I was thinking a lot about the items we moved and continue to choose storing and what it all represents: a life well-lived. Those Disney rides reminded me that going through life is a lot like riding a roller-coaster. There are lots of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Sometimes we experience an exciting thrill while other times we encounter a dizzying headache. No one is blessed with a smooth ride. Besides, wouldn’t life be boring without all those peaks and valleys?

Going through all our crap stuff in storage was an emotional journey. Special momentoes from when our children were little had us questioning where the time went. And then there were items from our deceased parents. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss them. Even with all the things I couldn’t part with, we were still able to whittle down our belongings so we could get one storage unit in Phoenix in lieu of the two we had in Colorado and we were able to get everything into a 20-foot truck instead of having to rent the large 26-footer.

Sinclair Dinosaur

And the move could not have gone any better, but that’s not to say I wasn’t a nervous wreck. I had every intention of catching up with a few of our friends while we were in our old stomping grounds, but I was suffering from a great deal of anxiety and worrying about what could go wrong on the drive. Could that be from too many years of full-time RVing? Ya, know … blown tires, broken landing jacks, engine issues, roof damage, etc. 🤣 Murphy’s Law is alive and well for those of us that RV.

I’m sure the guy at the U-Haul rental center thought I was a little OCD especially when he mentioned, “Wow! Most people don’t read all that”. I even made sure we went over a bunch of what if’s … flat tires, breakdowns, and roadside assistance. By the way, did you know if you rent one of those box trucks and get into an accident, your auto insurance policy probably won’t cover the damages? I called USAA (our insurance carrier) to verify our coverage. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being sold a U-Haul insurance policy that I didn’t need. I needed it! Yeah, renting a box truck is not like renting a car. So, do your due diligence if you rent any moving equipment.

And to think, when Al and I moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Colorado Springs, Colorado we never asked any of those questions. Ignorance is bliss, huh! And crossing Vail Pass and Loveland Pass in Colorado was a real treat in a couple of 26-foot box trucks. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can went through our heads as we chugged up passes over 11,000 feet in elevation. The best those trucks could do going up those mountains was maybe 25mph in a 75mph speed zone. We were just glad the trucks didn’t roll backward which we, at one point, were concerned about 😆

Route 66 Casino Albuquerque
On the light post between our 5th wheel and the motorhome is a small white sign saying “No Overnight Parking”. Oops! At least we weren’t the only ones who didn’t see the sign till morning.

After six years of full-time RVing, I’m rather adept at planning and even though all my planning went off without a hitch, it took nearly 300 miles in the rearview mirror before I finally calmed down and said to myself, “You got this!” Since Al and I are well versed in caravanning in separate vehicles, we used our Walkie Talkies to stay connected while driving. He was an amazing cheerleader and knew just what to say and when to say it. Thanks, hun!

Later that evening, while we were parked at the Route 66 Casino near Albequerque next to the “no overnight parking” sign, which we didn’t see until the next morning, we discussed my unwarranted concerns of the day. My behavior was definitely out of character. I’m a rather strong and independent person and don’t usually suffer from anxiety. I’m guessing a lot had to do with my emotions regarding the cargo in the rental truck. So many special momentoes. Ah, the memories …

Baby ducks snuggled under mama
Those little ones grow up so fast! I can’t believe my little one recently turned 30.

Driving 800 miles alone in an unfamiliar vehicle without music or an audiobook (radio only worked a fraction of the time), leaves one to ponder, and trust me, my mind wandered aimlessly. But I did think about how life can get stressful and how Al and I have always found a way to get through those challenging times. This move was a prime example. We usually come out on the other side a little stronger and a little wiser. Or so we hope!

12 Tips to overcome stress.

  1. Trust. Trust in yourself and your abilities.
  2. Laugh. Sometimes life gets so crazy that you just have to laugh. Even when Al and I have been stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, we try to find the humor in the situation. Even if you are in a serious, sad moment, there is laughter to be had. Laughter makes everything better!
  3. Focus on what you can control. Sometimes there are situations beyond our control (weather comes to mind) and no matter what we do, we can’t change it. During those times, it’s best to just roll with the flow, make an educated decision on the best recourse, and accept you have no control over the situation.
  4. The path is winding … unless you’re driving on Interstate 80 through the middle of Nebraska, only then can one be assured of a straight path.🤣
  5. Tips to overcome stressEveryone goes through stressful times. There isn’t an adult anywhere who hasn’t gone through feelings of being absolutely overwhelmed and stressed to the max. Know you are not alone.
  6. Don’t compare yourself to others. While there are people who will think that it’s helpful to tell you how they handled a similar situation, smile and accept their advice with a grain of salt. Only you know how to best handle an event or situation. We’re all different. Remember, trust in yourself.
  7. Learn from your mistakes. There is no growth without mistakes.
  8. Plan. Prior planning prevents poor performance. Failure to plan is planning to fail. Having a good plan in place will make life easier and less stressful, but be sure you build in some flexibility to help keep that stress level manageable.
  9. What you want and what you need may not be the same. When you’re feeling stressed about something not turning out the way you wanted, ask yourself if it was actually in your best interest? It could turn out that you’re better off with a different situation that you didn’t expect or know you needed.
  10. Tough situations make life better. It might seem silly, but challenges in life are what make life interesting. There’s great joy from successfully tackling a problematic situation. When you gain the confidence to know you can tackle anything, obstacles no longer are seen as insurmountable. Per Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger“.
  11. Understand that things will change. My favorite saying is, “This too shall pass”. Remember all things in life are temporary, including us. I no longer fuss over needing the perfect campsite, the perfect weather, or the perfect scenery… of course, I still want all that, but if I don’t get what I want, I don’t stress over it. Tomorrow is another day.
  12. Lean on your support system. We all have special people in our lives whether they are friends or family. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Studies have shown that leaning on friends or family makes it easier to cope with life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during those stressful and overwhelming times.

Entertaining video?

So with all the stress behind me, … weeell ……….. except for that long list of RV repairs that we’ll need to tackle this winter, I’m sharing why Al and I moved into our RV full-time in this video. Life can be stressful and sometimes we need to make a change and close one chapter and start a new one.

Oh, and by the way, one of the things that I didn’t explain or it might not seem clear in the video is regarding our careers. We had transitioned from airline careers into a career in homebuilding. So when I talk about our business was slow, that would be our homebuilding biz. Our story is better explained on our “About Us” page if you’re curious.

How have you overcome times of stress in your life? Do you have any inspiration to share?

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Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes | My First YouTube Video

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes | My First YouTube Video

What do blueberries and video making have in common? Well, dear friends, please read on.

The month of September was a little overwhelming for me, but mostly in a good way. The month started off great with a small family reunion in northern Wisconsin which included a visit from our daughter along with Al’s other sister and her husband. For those new here, Al and I spent a fantastic summer camped at his youngest sister’s lakefront property near Hayward, Wisconsin. Special memories were created this past summer along with that week-long visit from additional family members.

The month ended with us moving our two storage units in southern Colorado (after purging) to Phoenix, Arizona. To say that move was exhausting and stressful might be an understatement. I’ll save that tale for another post. Let’s talk about the fun stuff first, and that includes that visit from our daughter.

foggy morning at Enger Park in Duluth Minnesota
Enger Park, Duluth MN

A mother/daughter photo-op getaway!

Not one to pass up a chance for a mother/daughter getaway, shortly after her arrival in Wisconsin, I quickly arranged a 48-hour trip for just my daughter, Ashton, and myself. The other family members didn’t mind since they themselves were enthralled in catching up with one another.

Our first stop was to Lake Superior’s north shore near Duluth, Minnesota. My daughter had never been to this part of the country before and I was eager to share a little slice from my past with her.

She fell in love with the landscape as I knew she would. Gosh, what’s not to love? The spectacular scenery includes seven state parks, several waterfalls, small shoreline towns with restaurants and unique shops, and Lake Superior lighthouses.

Since my daughter shares my interest in photography, this trip was geared with photo-ops in mind. And let me tell you, this part of the U.S. will not disappoint a shutterbug.

After exploring the shoreline from Duluth to the Split Rock Lighthouse, we returned to Duluth where I had snagged us a room at The Inn on Lake Superior. Canal Park is considered the entertainment district of Duluth and we really enjoyed strolling the area and taking more photographs.

(To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image)

The following day, we drove to Lake Superior’s south shore in northern Wisconsin; a place I only discovered this past summer. I have fallen in love with this part of Wisconsin and found myself returning to Bayfield multiple times during our summer northern Wisconsin stay. If you enjoy kayaking then the little town of Cornucopia and Meyers Beach are not to be missed. The ‘sea caves’ along Lake Superiors coastline provide visitors with an extraordinary kayaking experience.

Lake Superior beach in Cornucopia, Wisconsin
Beach in Cornucopia, WI

Let’s go blueberry picking!

Not only is the Bayfield Peninsula known as the Gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, but it’s also known for the abundance of fruit farms dotting the landscape. Since Ashton had never visited a ‘pick your own‘ type of farm before, I knew I had to share this experience with her. Unfortunately, our timing wasn’t the greatest in early September. The blueberries were at the tail-end of their season and the apples weren’t quite ready for picking.

However, there were still some bushes with blueberries here and there for her to pick and eat right off the bush so she could enjoy the overall experience, and the farm still had prepicked blueberries for us to purchase. Therefore, we did not return home empty-handed.

An apple orchard in northern Wisconsin Blue Vista Farm
Apple Orchard

How to make the best blueberry pancakesMy sister-in-law and I had visited the Blue Vista Farm a few weeks earlier (mid-August) when the bushes were loaded with berries and picked nearly 5 pounds of blueberries.

Once those berries were washed and divided, I went into baking mode and stocked my sister-in-law’s freezer with treats centered around blueberries. I don’t think any of the family members complained about eating blueberry pancakes, blueberry coffee cake, blueberry scones or muffins. Nope, not at all!

Everyone loves my pancakes and they’re always a hit. So much so, that my adult children still frequently request them. Therefore, blueberry pancakes became a regular part of the weekly menu for our guest’s during their Northwoods visit.

 

Just in case you’re interested here’s the recipe, and do me a favor, throw that box mix away. I promise you won’t need it after you try these 🤗

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes that are super easy to make!

Easy Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Dry Ingredients
blueberry pancakes topped with banana slices1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk (or 1 cup water plus 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)

1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions
Melt the butter and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a 2 cup measuring cup, whisk together the wet ingredients and add the melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are fully combined. Fold in blueberries.

Heat a greased griddle or frying pan with either butter or non-stick cooking spray. Ladle batter onto the grill. Flip once the edges are browned. Once fully cooked through, serve pancakes topped with butter, maple syrup, or bananas.

Recipe by Ingrid @LiveLaughRV.com

Recipe Variation

I do change up the recipe from time to time depending on what fruit is in season or add some chopped walnuts to the batter and top them off with banana slices  It’s not uncommon for us not to have real milk in our RV fridge and I’ll use almond milk instead. Lately, we haven’t even had almond milk in the RV. So, what to do? These days, instead of milk, I use 1 cup of water with 1 Tablespoon of brewed coffee added and they turn out quite tasty. Seriously, give it a try. My daughter thinks they taste better with the water/coffee mixture than they do made with milk.

My first YouTube video

And if you’d like to see me make these easy fluffy blueberry pancakes, after I go blueberry picking (Yes, I take you blueberry picking), check out the video … my first ever! 😲 Oh yeah, there’s some faux pas, as in plural, but I figured, if I waited to make the perfect video, it’d never happen. So, here I am with plenty of mistakes, ums, and anyways included. I’ve been told, it gets easier to be on camera the more you do. We’ll see! Let me know what you think. (I have to admit, I’m doing a little cringe over here.)

BTW – The whole video was filmed on my iPhone 8+ and editing was also done on my iPhone in iMovie. As near as I can tell (or I’m not swift enough to figure out), I’m unable to add text to frames in iMovie on my phone. I’ll be visiting the Apple Store next week with a list of questions. I’m also not happy with the sound, but before I decide to spend any money on gear, I want to make sure I enjoy this video making.

Oh, and there’s more blueberry recipes to be had. Are you interested?

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A Love Affair with Blueberries

A Love Affair with Blueberries

The rolling hills, lush vegetation, and beautiful Lake Superior shoreline make visiting this part of northern Wisconsin well worth the out of the way drive. I’ve always been curious about the south shore of Lake Superior and have long wanted to visit this far northern part of the state. I finally had the opportunity recently and was not disappointed.

Bayfield, Wisconsin is considered the Berry Capital of the State and also known as the Gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Bayfield’s local agriculture produces some of the largest crops of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries in the Midwest.

Blueberries on a blueberry bush

Summertime is berry season on the Bayfield peninsula. That means fresh, locally grown berries are ripe for the picking. You can either pick yourself (most cost-effective) or you can purchase pre-picked berries. The “Fruit Loop” drive not only immerses visitors into the picturesque landscape but introduces them to the local farms and farm stands along the small country roads.

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and more

Al and I spent our summer camped on his sister’s lakefront property near Hayward, Wisconsin. Considering the quaint little town of Bayfield is located an easy hour and a half drive away, my sister-in-law and I decided to take a day trip up to the town to pick blueberries. She had never gone berry picking before. Ah, I’d need to fix that. (We called ahead to check on the status of the blueberries before making the drive. The second week in August 2019 was perfect for picking blueberries. We also kept tabs via the Orchard-Reports.)

Our first stop was at the Blue Vista Farm. I fell in love with this place. The property is stunning with its historic barn, and flower garden. And then there’s the orchards, butterflies, and birds along with clean air and puffy clouded blue skies. Seriously, I could spend a summer here and easily run out of film 😆. My sister-in-law literally had to pull me away so we could continue with our Bayfield explorations.

Blue Vista Farm – To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image.

After picking roughly 5 pounds of blueberries at the Blue Vista Farm, it was time for us to head to our next destination; Erickson’s Orchards & Country Store. Here, we weren’t interested in picking any more fruit. Nope, our visit was totally centered around their baked goods available in their country store.

We had visited Bayfield a few weeks earlier and had stopped in at Erickson’s. It was at the tail end of strawberry season and blueberries weren’t yet ready to pick. So, we settled for a sampling of baked goods and a bottle of local wine. And wow! So, now it was time for a repeat purchase, but instead of strawberry treats, it was blueberry treats. Yum! Many of these farms also offer additional products such as jellies, jams, preserves, and honey that we’ll consider during another visit.

Fish Tacos BlackenedWith our stash of freshly picked blueberries and a box full of baked goods safely stored in our cooler, we headed into town for lunch at the Bayfield Inn. Their rooftop restaurant offers beautiful views and casual dining.

The town of Bayfield is home to one of the remaining sustainable fisheries on the Great Lakes. Local fishermen bring in a daily catch of salmon, trout, and whitefish.

With whitefish being the most popular, many of the local restaurants offer it on their menus cooked in a variety of ways.

I ordered the White Fish Tacos blackened and they were absolutely delicious. So tasty that I’ve tried replicating them at home. I’ve gotten close to their recipe, but I’ll need to keep working at it and Al will continue to suffer through my culinary experiments. I don’t think he’s complaining.

Shopping

After lunch, my sister-in-law and I did a little strolling up and down historic Rittenhouse Avenue. Bayfield is a small town and each shop offers something different and unique. Of course, my T-shirt addiction didn’t allow me to walk away empty-handed. 😏 And my sister-in-law couldn’t resist a purchase at the Candy Shoppe. Their fruit wine breads and chocolate turtles were to die for and we hear their homemade ice cream is pretty tasty as well.

Gardens

I think one of the things that surprised me the most during my visits to this historic Wisconsin town was the gardens. From residences to shops and even marinas, they all pride themselves in providing lovely flower gardens complete with yard art. It was so enjoyable to just walk around the town taking in the sights.

I’ve loved every single visit I made to Bayfield this past summer. Al and I even managed to take one of those 3-hour boat tours around the Apostle Islands. And we couldn’t have picked a better day to do so, but I’ll save that adventure for another post.

Bayfield, Wisconsin
Bayfield, Wisconsin

What I’ve been working on!

We had an absolutely fantastic summer and a busy one at that. I’ve been so busy especially these last few weeks that blogging has been put on the backburner. Not only have I enjoyed adventures with family, but I’ve also been trying my hand at video. Not very successfully, I might add. Video will never replace my love of still photography, but it may enhance this blog as well as challenge me creatively. I do have three videos ready to upload to my not yet created YouTube Channel. That’ll need to wait until I’m settled into my winter location. Yep, we’re in travel mode right now transitioning between northern Wisconsin and Phoenix, Arizona. In the meantime, I thought I’d share this silly little trailer I threw together in iMovie. More adventures to come!

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Summer’s Last Hurrah

Summer’s Last Hurrah

This is Labor Day weekend here in the United States which usually marks the end of the summer camping season for many. Fortunately for us, we get to continue RVing and head south for the winter. I’m extremely grateful that I’m able to follow my feathered friends and migrate with the seasons, but I’m not ready to move on … just yet.

Prior to this summer, it had been years since I’d spent any time in northern Wisconsin let alone stay this far north into September. And this past week has served as a reminder as to why the camping season comes to an end after Labor Day Weekend in the north woods. It has been downright cold at night. I’m talking in the 45 degree Fahrenheit range with daytime temps struggling to hit 70 degrees F. Plus, the leaves are already showing signs that fall is just around the corner as they tease us with hints of gold and red. And it’s only the first few days in September! That said, there is a raw beauty to the landscape and a clean crispness to the air that I’m absolutely loving. Bring on the sweatshirts!

Kreher Park Campground in Ashland Wisconsin
Kreher Park Campground, Ashland, WI

We really enjoyed this town!

So, with summer weather clearly in the rearview mirror, my thoughts drift back to some great finds that Al and I discovered this season … one of which was Ashland, Wisconsin.

Located in northern Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay lies an interesting little town called Ashland. It was once a center for lumbering, mining, and Great Lakes shipping but today Ashland is a popular destination for tourists and anglers and is known as “The Historic Mural Capital in Wisconsin”.

This community of around 8,000 has eloquently preserved its history by painting murals on many of the downtown buildings creating a fascinating walkable history book. In fact, it may have more murals per capita than any other place in the Midwest.  There may be large cities with more murals over a wider area, but Ashland packs a concentrated punch of murals in the town’s center.

The murals in this south shore town are special to locals because they portray folks who once lived in this small community.  Some of these people had an influential role in the town while others were merely everyday people who contributed to everyday life. You could easily take in most of the murals on foot in about an hour depending on how long you spend at each mural and how quickly you walk.

Images of Ashland … to enlarge photos, click on any image

10 Things to do around Ashland

  • Go on a Mural walk downtown
  • Bike or hike the trails
  • Fish
  • Visit a waterfall
  • Cruise the Apostle Islands
  • Kayak
  • Shop the historic town
  • Take a scenic drive
  • Birding
  • Visit an orchard and pick your own

Wonderful Bike Trail

We really enjoyed walking around the downtown area and admiring the murals, but we also discovered the town’s amazing bike trail. We don’t have bikes anymore so we stuck to hiking portions of the trail system. Sigh … this was one time I truly missed my bicycle. This bike trail is perfect for my kind of biking; paved and gentle hills.

The bike trail even passed right by our awesome Lake Superior lakefront campsite.

Campgrounds

Al and I have been spending the summer on private property at his sister’s lakefront home near Hayward, Wisconsin. Not wanting to overstay our welcome, our plan all along was to do some out and back trips over the course of our three-month summer stay. We enjoyed a great trip down memory lane when we visited the north shore in Minnesota in July and we were hoping for an equally fun trip.

I had spent hours mapping out our journey into Michigan’s Upper Pennisula. Blog posts and campground reviews were read. Stops, sites, things to see and do were clearly noted in my notebook. We bid farewell to sister and brother-in-law with the intent of returning in 7-10 days.

Our first stop was in Ashland; only an hour and a half drive away from the family. This would be merely an overnight …. or so we thought. The drive to Ashland was scenic, well as scenic as the same lush forest on a two-lane road gets. Once we arrived in town, we quickly found and drove through the county park campground where I had planned on staying. Kreher Park Campground is a first-come, first-serve kind of place and we missed snagging the last site by mere minutes.

The other option was the small county park at the opposite end of town also first-come, first-serve. After talking to the camp host at Kreher Park, we didn’t have high hopes for finding an open spot in town that night but we decided to drive through Prentice Park Campground just to make sure there weren’t any openings.

Great campsite at Prentice Park Campground

Luck was on our side and we snagged the one and only open site which was also one of the best. Prentice Park only has a total of seven sites. One for the camp host and a couple of others were taken by monthly RVer’s leaving only four sites that rotate. So yeah, we sure got lucky.

The next morning, we returned to Kreher Park CG just as an RV was pulling out of a lakefront site. Score! Someone was doing a happy dance. Can you guess who? 😁 The previous folks also left behind a stake of firewood … more happy dancing.💃

That evening as the sunset over Lake Superior, Al and I enjoyed drinks while a lovely campfire kept us warm. Ah, life is good! That’s when Al asked, “Where are we going tomorrow?” “What do you mean?”, I quizzically responded. “Well, don’t you have a whole trip planned out for us to explore the U.P.?” “Oh yeah, that. How about we just stay here? And on that note, the plans were quickly changed!

The view from my campsite at Kreher Park

So all those hours of trip planning were canceled in mere minutes. Ah, no regrets on my part. Camping along the shores of Lake Superior was a goal of mine since we pulled out of Phoenix at the end of May. All the notes are saved and archived for next summers excursion. Yeah, I have a feeling we’ll be back next year.

A note about Kreher Park Campground: it is a first-come, first-serve CG with E/W only and an onsite sloped dump station. Most sites are unlevel, mixed sizes, and gravel/grassy. There are local construction workers renting sites on a monthly basis which makes this small campground even more difficult to find an open site. Have a backup plan and Walmart is not it (no overnighting at the Walmart). There is boondocking at a boat landing near the power plant for $20 a night but the air smells from the plant. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of camping options around here for RVs of a larger size. Small travel trailers and tents rule in the north woods.

The Best Drinking Water

One of the many reasons I wanted to camp near Lake Superior was for the drinking water. I grew up near Chicago and most municipalities in Chicagoland get their drinking water from Lake Michigan. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan are cold and deep and the water is clear and delicious.

These days, we find ourselves spending most of our time in Arizona and the local drinking water for most municipalities comes from the Colorado River … rich in minerals; minerals that cause calcification in our RV plumbing AND in our bodies. Intense filtering is necessary.

The moment we were set up at the Prentice Park Campground, Al opened our freshwater holding tank to let it drain (it was only a quarter full anyway). We then filled up with the excellent water at our campsite. Later, we were told the water came from an Artesian Well. This was the clearest and tastiest water that we’ve seen come out of a spiggot in years. It’s hysterical how Al and I are treating that fresh water in our tank as a precious commodity. “NO, you can’t use it to flush the toilet”, we both scream! 🤣

Artesian Water – We filled every empty container we had.

Turns out, there’s actually an Artesian Water fill-up station (not for RVs – you’ll need a campsite) at Prentice Park as well as at the Maslowski Beach along Highway 61. We filled up any empty or half-empty water containers we had in the RV. Seriously, this is the best water I’ve tasted in years and I’m so glad our freshwater tank is filled with this stuff.

A Cruise on Lake Superior

Our five days in the area were not only very relaxing but provided some fabulous sightseeing. High on my bucket list was a visit to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. My previous visits to Bayfield (gateway to the Apostle Islands) were either filled with other adventures or the weather was somewhat inclement. Once again, we lucked out and enjoyed a perfect day for a cruise around the Apostle Islands. But I’ll share that in another post!

Bad weather was rolling in – time to lift the jacks

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Lumberjacks, Rainbows, and Unicorns

Lumberjacks, Rainbows, and Unicorns

One of my favorite things about RV travel is the ability to spend extended time in diverse landscapes. This past winter, we were exploring the Sonoran Desert surrounded by the majestic saguaro cactus, and this summer, we find ourselves living on lakefront property surrounded by a lush landscape full of tall trees and a forest floor carpeted with ferns and wildflowers. Talk about extremes!

I just love it when the stars align and my days are filled with rainbows and unicorns. Ah, life is good in the Northwoods … that is when one of their insane storms isn’t rolling through!

When we decided to spend our summer with family in northern Wisconsin, Al and I weren’t sure if we’d enjoy spending three months back in the Midwest. After all, since moving west in 1992, the most time we had spent back here was in 2015 when we only lastest five weeks. Yep, after five weeks back in Illinois and Wisconsin, we ended up canceling a bunch of reservations so we could high-tale it back to Colorado.

Although we enjoyed that Midwestern excursion in ’15, I think our mindset at the time was more interested in exploring places west of the Rocky Mountains. These days, I’m feeling a draw to return to my roots and some old stomping ground favorites.

a reflection mallard duck swimming by

Hayward, Wisconsin

Folks come to Hayward and the surrounding area to enjoy the abundance of lakes and relaxing way of life. As a child, I spent quite a few family summer vacations in this part of Wisconsin, and they were always so much fun that my siblings and I couldn’t wait for dad’s vacation time so we could return to our favorite lake and campground on the Chippewa Flowage. Ah, such fond memories and now we have family that actually live just down the road from that favorite place … with room for us to park our RV. How sweet is that!

RV camped in the northwoods on a foggy morning
A foggy morning at our summer campsite. Yoho!

During summer months, fishing, swimming, and strolling Hayward’s small-town streets are just a few fun activities in this former lumbering town. Hayward keeps its past alive by hosting the Lumberjack World Championships each summer. And guess what? We had the pleasure of attending this entertaining competition. This was definitely a first for me! Who knew there was an International Timber Sports Competition? I know, I didn’t. And it’s even televisioned on ESPN.

Lumberjack World Championships

The Lumberjack competition is a three-day celebration of timber sports with over 120 competitors from around the world. Competitors are from five different countries; Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Canada, and the United States. There are 24 events including logrolling, boom running, sawing, chopping, axe throwing, and speed climbing.

Log Rolling: Lumberjacks and Lumberjills (yes, “lumberjill” … how cute is that!) run atop spinning, floating logs in an attempt to topple their opponents. If opponents don’t fall off after a specific time, they switch to a smaller log. Difficulty increases as the logs get smaller.

Boom Running: Competitors sprint atop a “boom” (a series of linked, floating logs) from one dock to another and back. The logs spin and dip. This is a test of speed and balance.

Boom running Lumberjack competition
Boom running

Sawing: Sawdust will fly when lumberjacks and Lumberjills attack lathe-turned white pine in a head-to-head competition using a crosscut saw or a souped-up chainsaw in a variety of fast and furious events.

Chopping: Lumberjacks and Lumberjills sharpen up their axes to compete in the high intensity standing chop, underhand chop, springboard chop, and standing block chop.

Throwing: Precision is the name of the game as competitors throw a double-bit axe as close to the center of a target as possible from a set distance away … bullseye!

Speed Pole Climbing: Lumberjacks go head to head in the breathtaking speed pole climb as they scale a 60′ or 90′ pole and seemingly fall to earth in record time.

Lumberjack World Championship Hayward Wisconsin
The storm passed just in time for the competition to begin.

Fortunately, the threatening storm clouds passed just to the north of Lake Hayward allowing clear skies to prevail for the championship to begin on time. “Yoho!” This was a really fun and interesting sporting event. The competition moved rapidly keeping everyone entertained. At various times throughout the event, spectators could be heard yelling “Yoho!”.

The story behind the “Yoho” goes something like this… Back at lumber camp (many moons ago), one of the lumberjacks needed to visit the outhouse. The weather was clear when he first entered, but upon exiting the outhouse the forest had become covered in a thick layer of fog. The fog was so thick that it was impossible for him to find his way back to camp. So he yelled out “yoho” to his fellow lumberjacks who in turn yelled “yoho” back. The yelling of “yoho” back and forth helped guide the lumberjack back to camp. “Yoho!”  😏

A special treat

Ah, when those stars align … seeing wildlife in their environment is always a special treat and my encounters with the Loons this summer has been amazing but seeing a bald eagle was equally spectacular.

American Bald Eagle

The first time I saw this gal/guy fly by was during happy hour. There we were, sitting on the back screened-in porch on the upper level of the lake house enjoying our margaritas when a huge bird swooped down from the top of the house and flew by us at eye level. We could literally hear the movement of her wings. I was giddy with excitement. I had no idea that this would be the first of many eagle sightings during my summer jaunt to the Northwoods.

Bald Eagle
The neighborhood Bald Eagle
A Lake house
This is our spot for the summer. The upper deck on the house is the perfect place to enjoy a drink, mingle with family, and watch the wildlife.

Country living

We are absolutely loving our time and campsite on private property this summer. Not only do we have a lake view, but we also have hookups and access to a house AND boat, not to mention special time with family. Yep, I’m loving those boat rides. But there is a downside to country living, our cell phones and hotspot do not work. Well, I guess somedays that might be construed as a plus, but other days it does present some challenges. Thankfully, my sister-in-law has a landline and a pretty good internet service, so we aren’t totally disconnected … oh, and cable TV. We were able to get caught up and watch the final season of Game of Thrones. Pretty important stuff, ya know!

Heading into town is about a 25-minute drive and once in Hayward, I can find almost anything I need at the local grocery store or Walmart. But Main Street should not be overlooked.

Strolling the quaint shops and taking in the interesting architecture is equally entertaining. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and treat shops to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Of course, being the T-shirt addict that I am, I felt compelled to add to the local economy by not passing up the opportunity to add to my collection.

Oh, and I bought a pair of super comfy Teva sandals at one of the local shops, Glik’s. My favorite Merrell’s were wearing out and needed to be replaced. I’m loving this new sandal and have been wearing them almost exclusively ever since I bought them. I found it pleasantly surprising that some of these small-town shops here in Hayward as well as Grand Marais, MN offer such a great selection of trail shoes and offer styles that I didn’t see in the big city of Phoenix. Hmm, do I dare go shopping some more?

All good things must come to an end

I can’t believe that it’s already mid-August and our summer is quickly coming to an end. For those of us that have been RVing for a while, we all know the ups and downs of the RV lifestyle. I usually cringe when I hear people say, “Your living the dream” because there are many times RV life is more like a nightmare than a dream, but this summer has really been a dream for us. We didn’t do the traveling we thought we’d do this summer. Instead, we settled into lakehouse living and enjoying our time with family and that’s fine by us. Traveling all the time can get tiring.

Perhaps we’ll return next summer and do that exploring we thought we’d do this year. Ah, time will tell! In the meantime, I’ll savor the last weeks of summer in the Northwoods before we head back to the desert southwest. Are there more unicorns and rainbows in my future? Stay tuned!

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Casual Print T-Shirt – Lake Life
Distressed Vintage Patch Hat: Lake Life, Black
Teva Women’s Verra Sandal